In "The Yellow Wallpaper," what is seen from the 4 views from the windows upstairs, and what is the emotional quality of those views?  

1 Answer

mrs-campbell's profile pic

mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Since the narrator is cooped up in this room for most of her day and all night, the views out the window are one of the few things that she has to look at.  Other than the wallpaper, which eventually becomes her entire focus, of course.  One of the reasons that her husband, John, put her in that room in the first place is because downstairs "there was only one window," and upstairs, there are four, so he feels it will do her better, because there will be more views and sunlight.

In the story, the narrator indicates that out of one window she can see the

"garden, those mysterious deepshaded arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees."

If you look at the way that she describes this scene, you can feel the emotional undertones of frustration, feeling out-of-control of her life, and depression.  The garden is "mysterious and deepshaded," reflecting her depression.  The flowers are "riotous," tying in with how she feels her life is riotous, and not in her control.  And, the trees are "gnarly," symbolic of her own frustrated confusion.

Then, out of another window, she gets a view of of the water, with a wharf, and lanes leading up to it.  It is right after this that she ties it in, by saying,

"I always fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and arbors."

Here, we see her emotional desire for socializing, her need to be active and amongst people, whereas she is sitting up in her room, all by herself.  Her husband even chastises her for such "fanciful" imagninings, thinking it is unhealthy.  But, she just wants to be with people, out doing normal things.

The last two windows have a view of the road, leading away from the house and through the countryside, and then one that just looks out over the land surrounding the house.  She says that it is "a lovely country, full of great elms and velvet meadows."  The road winding away could represent her desire to leave the place, and the countryside her desire again, to be outside, enjoying where they are, instead of imprisoned in the horrid room.

The views, all different, each reflect her conflicted and stifled emotional state; she feels shunned, ostracized, confused, and longs for a normal life again, filled with beauty, freedom and normal activities.  I hope that those thoughts helped a bit; good luck!